Cyber Threat Alert, Phishing

Watch out for the newest phishing scam

Attackers have developed two new business email compromise (BEC) phishing techniques that evade email security filters by manipulating Microsoft 365’s automated email responses.

  1. First the read receipts is manipulated.
  2. Then the target victims out-of-office (OOO) replies are redirected.

Both were seen being used in the United States in December 2020 during the holidays.

Step 1 – “Disposition-Notification-To” Read-Receipt Notification

With the read-receipts attack, the attacker creates an email and changes the “Disposition-Notification-To” email header to create a read-receipt notification from Microsoft 365 to the recipient.

The email should get caught by email security filters, but since it is created from the internal system, the read receipt is sent to the target, bypassing traditional security filters and is sent to the employee’s inbox,

Step 2 – Out-of-Office (OOO) Attack

With the OOO attack, a the attacker creates a BEC email impersonating someone inside the company. The attacker changes the “Reply-To” email header so that if the target has an OOO message turned on, that OOO notification (that includes the original text) is directed to someone else within the organisation.

Again, the message most likely will not be caught by email security filters, because it originates from the original target’s account, not externally.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is Still a Serious Email Threat

BEC emails are used to steal money from companies, often by impersonating an employee, vendor or customer in an email or mobile message. It often involves the attacker asking to pay a fake invoice, recurring payment or wire transfer.

The amount of BEC attacks continues to grow. According to Abnormal Security’s Quarterly BEC Report, BEC attacks rose by 15 percent quarter-over-quarter in Q3 of 2020.

BEC attacks rose by 15% quarter-over-quarter in Q3 of 2020.

Abnormal Security’s Quarterly BEC Report,

The average BEC attack volume per week during that time increased in six out of eight industries. The largest increase in BEC attacks was 93 percent in the energy/infrastructure sector. The highest number of weekly BEC attacks were in retail/consumer goods and manufacturing and technology. The study found these BEC campaigns used mostly invoice and payment fraud, with a 155 percent Quarter on Quarter.

The study found these BEC campaigns used mostly invoice and payment fraud, with a 155 percent Quarter on Quarter.

ABNORMAL SECURITY’S QUARTERLY BEC REPORT,

As email-security gets better, so do cybercriminals. For example, in early January a campaign was launched that leveraged Google’s Forms survey tool to create an ongoing conversation between the email recipient and the attacker which set up victims for future BEC attacks.

Microsoft and Office 365 are Big Targets

The Microsoft Office 365 cloud environment is a big target for BEC compromise as well.

Once hackers compromise an Office 365 environment, these BEC scammers can leverage trusted communications. For example, attackers can send an illegitimate email from the CEO’s official account to socially engineer employees, customers, or partners.

Attackers can also search through emails, chat histories and files to steal passwords or other important data. They can also set up forwarding rules to get access to emails without needing to sign in again. Furthermore, they could plant malware or malicious links into commonly used and trusted documents. The goal here is to manipulate something everyone trusts to bypass prevention controls that could trigger alerts to ultimately steal or hold files and data for ransom.

Protecting Against BEC Attacks

BEC attacks are hard to detect with typical tools and methods because they do not use malware or malicious URLs that can be detected by antivirus, so mitigating this threat can be difficult. Traditionally, the best defence for these kinds of attacks is end-user training and awareness so end-users can verify a request is indeed legitimate. It is also always a good idea to implement 2FA for email, configure your email to filter out suspicious looking phishing emails, and use updated end-point protection and antivirus.

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Cyber Threat Alert, Node Chats, Phishing

Office 365 phishing campaign threatens C-level executives

An advanced Microsoft Office 365 phishing campaign is being launched at C-level executives, executive assistants, and financial departments.

Some of these attacks see newly-appointed, unannounced CEO’s as victims. In these cases, attackers try to take advantage of the executives during their transition period to gain unauthorized access to the account.

Attackers try to compromise any company account or a 3rd party partner and then use collected sensitive information to create more sophisticated attacks to phish C-level executives.

This campaign began in early December 2020 and is still ongoing as of March 2021. The attackers are leveraging phishing toolkits and many sophisticated methods.

Most of the phishing emails are sent from addresses with Microsoft-themed sender domains, with properly configured SPF records and are made to look like messages from the company, carrying fake alerts about “Important Service Changes”, “Important Security Policy Update”, etc.

The majority of the targeted email accounts used the format first name.last name@company domain, making full names in the attachments easy to automate. But even in cases where only initials appeared in the email address, the attackers still included the victim’s full name in the PDF attachment. This suggests the threat actors conducted additional prior research to carefully carry out spear phishing attacks.

Through malicious attachments, the victim is sent to a spoofed Microsoft-looking themed webpage with a fake Office 365 login page. If the victim enters their account credentials into the phishing portal, the attacker can then verify it was a valid Office 365 address. If after the victim enters their credentials, the victim may simply be redirected to the legitimate sign-in website like nothing ever happened.

How to Protect Yourself

Sophisticated phishing attacks are hard to detect with typical tools and methods because they do not use malware or malicious URLs that can be detected by antivirus. While it is important that you always use updated end-point protection and antivirus, mitigating this threat is hard. Here are some best practices:

  • End-user training, awareness, and education is critical so end-users know to verify a request as legitimate and stay alert for unexpected emails with links or attachments. For example, employees should be on the alert for poor spelling and grammar and spoofed app names, domain URLs and email addresses.
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) for email. This is one of the best defences against phishing, because even if the attacker steals a user’s credentials, they won’t be able to gain access without the second factor.
  • Configure your email to filter out suspicious looking phishing emails. Depending on your email filter, this may be turned on by default.
  • Prohibit employees from being able to navigate to sites not whitelisted via a web filter. If you have a web filter, have your network administrator or authorized IT professional configure it to prohibit users from accessing unsafe and spoofed websites.

Node Prevent

When you purchase one of our cyber insurance policies we include Node Prevent, a free service with employee training, how to implement best practices and threat alerts such as these.

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Cyber Threat Alert, News

Cyber Threat Alert: Dangerous Microsoft Exchange Exploits

Does your organisation run a Microsoft Exchange Server? If so read on!

What Happened?

Microsoft has detected multiple zero day exploits attacking on-premises versions of Microsoft Exchange Server. In these attacks, the threat actor accesses on-premises Exchange servers (and the associated email accounts) and installs additional malware to retain unauthorized access to the environment.

What is Affected?

The vulnerabilities affect Microsoft Exchange Server. Exchange Online is NOT affected.

The versions affected are:

  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2013
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2016
  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2019

What to Do

If you run any of the affected versions, IMMEDIATELY apply these updates to affected systems to protect against these exploits. Externally facing Exchange servers should be updated first and then update all affected Exchange Servers.

Node Prevent

When you purchase one of our cyber insurance policies you’ll receive vital cybersecurity updates such as this and online training courses to keep your employees up-to-date with the current cyber threats.

Cyber Threat Alert

5 Cyber Threats You Will Encounter In 2021

Here are our predictions for 2021 based on statistics collected from 2020.

We warned of ransomware, phishing and remote worker security last year but they won’t be disappearing from our top threats any time soon.

Newcomers AI-driven threats and Cloud threats grow as we rely on these services more and more.

Find our article on the top cyber threats of 2020 here.

Prevention and detection are key to avoiding these cyber threats.

Insurance is necessary but shouldn’t be your only line of defence. Actions need to be taken to help avoid cyber attacks in the first place.

We provide prevention and detection tools with our insurance in the hope you never have to experience a cyber attack. But if the worse should happen we will be there to help you fix it.

Learn more by checking out our in depth articles on some of the cyber threats:

Cyber Threat Alert, Tech

Top Five Cyber Threats 2020

Where should you focus your cybersecurity efforts?

These top five threats are a good place to start:

Don’t let phishing scare you, this is an easily avoided cyber threat avoided by changing bad habits, learn more about it in our article here.

Ransomware worries? Discover personalised methods of attack to watch out for and everything else you need to know here.

Keep an eye out for the rest of our in-depth articles covering all five cyber threats individually.

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